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Only a student...

Office politics shit me!

I know I'm not alone in this sentiment, but honestly, I find it difficult to comprehend the temperament of people who participate in office politics.

Yesterday, I had an interaction in my office which was both hurtful and revealing.

I made a call in relation to completing some forms for a fieldwork application. I knew the person I was talking to intimately, so I concede that part of our conversation was regarding her health and the health of her partner. Nevertheless, the purpose and majority of our conversation was about this meeting. I am well within my rights to make this call in the office.

At one point in my conversation, I heard someone behind me say in a loud voice, 'Excuse me, could you speak a bit slower?' I turned to see who it was, because the question was quite loud, the person was looking at me, but I couldn't understand the request, why should I talk slower? It dawned on me, that what the woman probably meant was for me to speak more quietly. I will admit I was speaking above a whisper because the person I was speaking to sometimes finds it difficult to hear what I'm saying.

I lowered my voice to be on the safe side, and then I caught snippets of a conversation between the woman who had made the request and another person in the office. It went along the lines of this...

...she shouldn't be making personal calls...
*something in an undertone*
...she's only a student...

They then laughed, and one left the office, then came back, then more laughter, then they both left the office.

During this, I continued my conversation with my back to them. I was cast back to high school and that place where mean girls would talk about me just within earshot because they didn't have the integrity to tell me up front what they thought of me.

So, now I know my presence in the office is neither understood - why should a lowly student be set up in a sessional office? - nor appreciated.

Now, I'm absolutely willing to concede I needed to speak more quietly, and in future I will do that.

However, the person who accused me of making an inappropriate personal call spent all of last week calling real estate agents to enquire whether the places they had advertised included a separate study. She did so loudly and frequently, and I said nothing, I simply put my ear plugs in as I always do and got on with my work.

The other one has had student conferences in the room, and done Skype meetings in the room - I specifically do my Skype meetings at home so as not to bother anyone.

So, the double standard grates on me, but more to the point the sense of superiority and the consequent sense of entitlement to a double standard shits me even more.

But even more so, the naïveté!

Yes, I am 'only a student', so in the hierarchy of academics, these casual employees at the university are above me, in that they are sessional tutors. However, academics is a strange beast, unpredictable and fickle. These women have no idea who I know, what connections I have. They cannot project what position of seniority I may have over them in the next couple of years. To be so blatantly rude, so dismissive of my status is a very dangerous hand to play in the current climate.

Besides which, teachers should not, ever, have an attitude of 'only a student' towards the people without whom they would not have employment. Students make or break universities. Students vote with their feet. If you treat students with contempt, they will take their attendance and money elsewhere. Surely, they can see that?

But mostly, why be mean?


Why don't people understand that being mean always, always reveals more about the person being mean than the person they are being mean to. To be mean is to undermine yourself.

Why would you do that to yourself?


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